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Still Shouting “Stella!”

Celebrating A Streetcar Named Desire’s 75th anniversary

Still Shouting “Stella!”

Tennessee Williams and New Orleans Literary Festival

In late March, an annual five-day affair for readers, writers, and theater lovers takes place in the lush Bohemia of the New Orleans French Quarter. The timing celebrates the March 26th birthday of the event’s patron saint, playwright Tennessee Williams. Featuring Pulitzer Prize winners alongside some of the most promising voices in contemporary literature, the Tennessee Williams and New Orleans Literary Festival hosts panel discussions, a writer’s craft series, literary walking tours, and a showcase of New Orleans culture with culinary, cocktail, and music events.

This year’s festival, to be held March 23–27, will celebrate Williams’s birthday, along with the 75th anniversary of his most recognized work, A Streetcar Named Desire. The play won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and has continued to captivate audiences in subsequent productions, film adaptations, ballets, and operas, even making its way into an episode of The Simpsons.

Opening Night, a grand homecoming for patrons who reunite at the festival each spring, will draw from a wealth of New Orleans talent, including actors, singers, musicians, dancers, writers, marionettes, and drag queens. This celebration of Streetcar, filled with surprises, will be hosted by actor and playwright Michael Cerveris and singer-songwriter Arséne DeLay. The festival’s annual tribute reading will celebrate the play with Williams’s poetry, prose, and letters, plus some playful behind-the-scenes insights.

The play is also the focus of the annual breakfast book club and appears in The NOLA Project’s popular “Tennessee X Three,” a trio of Williams’s one acts, which will include Interior: Panic, a precursor to Streetcar. An exciting companion to all this programming is The Historic New Orleans Collection’s planned exhibition, Backstage at A Streetcar Named Desire, to open in time for the festival.

Beyond this array of Streetcar events, the festival boasts an impressive roster of contemporary writers discussing their latest works in literary discussion panels and leading writer’s craft sessions. Plus, now in its 19th year, the Saints and Sinners LGBTQ Literary Festival will take place concurrently, with panels, readings, workshops, and special events for LGBTQ writers, readers, publishers, and literary professionals. For some levity, the Tennessee Williams Theatre Company of New Orleans will present For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls, a parody of The Glass Menagerie by Christopher Durang. TWFest patrons are longing for the 36th annual literary pilgrimage to the French Quarter, but organizers will also offer some virtual content for its newly-found online fans. Full details and tickets at tennesseewilliams.net and sasfest.org.